Hand holding a pencil while filling out a bubble exam answer sheet.

SAT accommodations for low vision

A successful college student with low vision shares her SAT accommodations tips and experiences.

When I was researching information about transitioning to college with low vision, I learned that all three of the colleges I planned to apply to strongly recommended that students take the SAT test with writing at least once. This meant that I was going to have to not only study for the exam but also study how to get SAT accommodations for low vision, as traditional pencil and paper exams with standard-sized print are inaccessible to me. Since I was somewhat familiar with testing accommodations for low vision, the process for getting disability accommodations for the SAT wasn’t overly stressful, though it’s critical that students and parents know what accommodations are available and how to request them. Here are my tips on requesting SAT accommodations for low vision, based on my own experiences.

Accessible SAT study resources for low vision

Before I talk more about getting SAT accommodations for low vision, here are some examples of places to get accessible SAT study guides for low vision students or students with print disabilities. I will not be recommending a specific book or guide, rather a way for people to find accessible copies of existing resources.

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How to file for SAT disability accommodations

Accommodations will need to be filed in advance

My family and I contacted my high school testing coordinator and worked with them to file my SAT accommodations twelve weeks prior to the day I planned to take the SAT at my school district’s school-based testing center. Typically, if a student is approved for accommodations that are used on another College Board test such as an AP exam or the PSAT, they will not need to file for accommodations again unless the accommodations have changed. However, my accommodations needed to be updated after I had moved to a new school district and received an updated IEP.

Request specific accommodations

SAT accommodations for low vision will need to be as specific as possible, and it’s not uncommon for someone to have over a dozen accommodations listed because of this. For example, a student would need to request computer access for a test, plus access to a screen-reader and access to a screen magnifier- these are three separate accommodations. Some accommodations can also only be implemented in a school-based testing center, not at a national SAT testing center. I go into more detail about the specific accommodations I requested in the next few sections.

Submitting documentation for accommodations

In order to get SAT accommodations for low vision, the testing coordinator had to submit supporting documentation that provided information about why these accommodations were being requested. My family and I provided the following documentation, which was sent to the College Board for review:

Getting SAT accommodations approved

About a month after we submitted the documentation and forms requesting SAT disability accommodations, I was approved for all of the accommodations that we had requested, and I was able to take the test on the day that I expected. I didn’t have to change my accommodations when I took the SAT for the second time, but I did notify the testing coordinator when I planned to take the test again.

SAT exam score delay

Because I received my SAT in an accessible format, I had to wait an additional  4-6 weeks after scores were released to receive my own scores, as there is typically a delay with scoring tests that are in modified formats. However, there is no way for a person to know that a student received accommodations on their SAT unless the student discloses it themselves.

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Filling out forms before test day

Before taking the SAT, students have to fill out several forms that cover a lot of information, such as where the test scores should be sent, where the test is being taken, and other information. My mom and I went to the school testing center the day before the actual SAT to fill out all of these forms since they were not sent to us in large print. As a result, we had the ability to bypass several registration lines the next morning at the testing center- though we did have several angry parents yell at us since it appeared we were cutting the line.

Environmental accommodations for SAT

The following accommodations are related to the testing environment in which I took my SAT. I have noted where these accommodations appear in Section 12 of the Student Eligibility Form provided by the College Board.

Can I request both a scribe and computer/word processor for essays on the SAT?

The form for requesting accommodations states in section 12.4 that users cannot select both a computer/word processor for essays accommodation and a scribe accommodation. However, I spoke with a representative from the College Board’s SSD office in May 2021 and they stated that if a student has supporting documentation that shows why they would need both of these accommodations, then it will likely be approved. This could mean that the student would be able to type their own answers for the essay portion and then later work with the scribe on the multiple-choice questions. Students will need to work with their testing coordinator to determine if this accommodation will work best for them.

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Accommodations for the SAT exam

The following accommodations are related to the characteristics of the accessible SAT test. I have noted where these accommodations appear in Section 12 of the Student Eligibility Form provided by the College Board.

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Additional assistive technology accommodations for the SAT

The following accommodations are related to the use of assistive technology on the SAT test. These accommodations were listed as part of Section 12.5 in the Other category of the Student Eligibility Form provided by the College Board.

Related links

List of SAT accommodations for low vision students

My official SAT accommodations read as follows:

By Veronica Lewis/Veronica With Four Eyes, www.veroniiiica.com

Updated October 2023; original post published April 2017.

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